al hada as a feast of sacrifice. the u.n.nd league envoy to syria pes people there wl spend it in peace. lakhtar brahimi wants them to agree to a cease-fire during holiday. he says a pause in the fighting would alleviate the sorrow of the syrian people. the religious holiday starts next week. brahimi insists opposition commanders will support a cease-fire if government forces stop their attacks. but some fear this would only give the government side breathing room for future assaults. a syrian foreministry spokesperson said government officials are dlerg proposal. brahim sexpeed to visit damascus to try to get both sides to agree to the truce. he received support from a longtime syrian ally. the profit iran, mahmoud ahmadinejad backed his proposal. ahmadinejad said a cease-fire and negotiations on free elections is the right road to resolution. he had expressed support for peace negotiations brokered by brahimi when they met on sunday in tehran.
chinese officials, too, endorsed the plan. foreign ministry spokesperson hang lei said they hope both sides in the conflict will act responsibly for the sake of the country d tyrian people. cuba has long been restrict ing its citizens from traveling abroad. now the communist government is relaxing requirements for the first time in nearly half a century. the government said from january next year cubans in principle will be free to travel abroad. this will be possible if they can get a passport and a visa from the country they're visiting. previously cubans had to show an invitation letter from someone in the destination country. the cuban government will keep restrictions in place for certain groups they do not want to lose. this includes doctors and gineers. supporters say the new regulations could help stimulate cuba's chronically sluggish economy, but some observers express doubts about the new law when the government announced it will issue passports on a case-by-case basis.
people don't usually look forward to more tough times ahead. but greek leaders are eager to finalize an austerity deal with the european union. rahim mellegard joins us from the business desk. good morning. so more belt-tightening spending cuts. one starts to wonder when the greeks will get their house in order. >> exactly, catherine. and market investors have been looking at greece for a very long time now. really, they want to see if this plan is actually going to play out properly through the markets. greece is set to agree -- with its international creditors on tougher austerity measures as well as reforms. the deal is going to unlock fresh aid for the debt-ridden nation. representatives from the international monetary fund, european commission, as well as the european central bank released a statement on wednesday after meeting greek officials. the statement said all sides are poised to agree on an austerity package that's worth 13 billion euros or $17 billion to meet the terms of greece's bailout.
now the creditors say working level talks with greece will be wrapped up within a few days. that's after both sides finalize labor market reforms, as well as other outstanding issues. a decision on an extra bailout $361.5 billion euros is expected to be shelved until the eu financial ministers meeting next month. now checking on the busins side of markets. u.s. a eurean stock pces extended gains in overnight trade. strong u.s. housing data helped to lift market sentiment. the fact that spanish bonds also avoided another downgrade supported stocks and for more details, let's go toy to tokyo stock exchange. some markets are taking a little bit of a turn for the better. >> good morning, rahim. u.s. housing starts in support did rise to the fastest pace in around four years. but the market gains were capped by some lukewarm earnings by some highechants. let's take lookt howhat's moving markets in tokyo this
thursday morning. the nikkei and the topix both opening higher. nikkei up 0.9% at 8882. the topix also up 745. the nikkei managed to top the 8800 level for the first time yesterday. that's in six sessions on a weaker yen which boosts exporters and euro related stocks. we'll be keeping an eye today on some tech rated stocks such as chipmakers after intel gave a somewhat cautious outlook for the personal computer sector on weaker global demand and a shift to tablet computers. now speaking of which, apple shares will also be keeping an eye on as the company is expected to announce a new ipad version at an event next week. now also, china third quarter gdp due out in a few hours. we'll be keeping an eye on china stocks. ramin? >> turning to europe, we are seeing some optimism there. what's driving that?
>> well, ramin, there is market belief the fiscal pain in spain we did see spanish bond yields go down yesterday and also they managed to avoid an investment downgrade recently. that's boosting hopes that spain is getting closer to seeking a bailout from the european central bank. we also do have a two-day meeting of european and union leaders kicking off in a few hours. traders will be keeping an eye on any progress made with regards to bailouts for greece and spain. let's turn to how that's moving the currency markets right now. this thursday morning. the dollar/yen at 79.05 to 08. the euro yen at 103.68-70. the dollar jumped against the yen in overnight trade as strong housing starts data built expectations of a housing sector recovery. now the euro also up against the yen touched, in fact, a near one-month high against the yen in overnight trade. that's as ten-year spanish bonds fell to a near six-month low. ramin, we may see weaker yen against the dollar and the euro
boosting stocks today. but for now, back to you in the studio. >> great stuff, ching-li tor at the tokyo stock exchange. now theuropean union is ping to launch trade talks with the united states next year. a transatlantic deal could create a trade bloc accounting for nearly half of global output. eu leaders will begin a two-day summit in brussels on thursday to discuss trade negotiations. according to a draft obtained by nhk, the eu leaders will work toward launching the negotiations in 2013. leaders from both sides agreed in november last year to set up a high-level working group aimed at expanding trade and investment. the group pls to release its report by the endf this year. the draft also calls on eu countries to begin negotiations with japan for an economic partnership agreement. but france is among several countries expressing concern over an eu/japan deal. they say it will lead to a sharp
rise in auto imports. now people in india have suffered through chronic shortages of electricity, even blackouts. they may get some relief. their prime minister has held talks that could pave the way for imports of uranium from australia. man mohan singh hosted the australian prime minister in new delhi. they agreed to start negotiations on nuclear energy cooperation. australia has the world's largest reserves of uranium. it overturned a ban on exports to india last year on condition the uranium be used for peaceful purposes only. due to an electricity shortage, indian authorities are planning a sharp increase in nuclear power capacity. but indian leaders have not signed the nonproliferation treaty set up to control the spread of nuclear weapons. that's all for business news for this hour. i'll leave you with a recap of the region's markets.
aininger is spreading among residents in the southern island of okinawa over the alleged rape of a local woman by two u.s. servicemen. okinawans have lived with u.s. military bases in their backyard for decades. incidents such as this have occurred repeatedly. the case could further strain japan/u.s. security ties. investigators say the men attacked the woman before dawn on tuesday on a street in the central part of okinawa's main island. they say the suspects raped and
injured her and then made off with some of her personal belongings, including her bag, mobile phone and some of her clothes. the servicemen arrived in okinawa on sunday and were to leave for guam on tuesday. okinawa's governor naikama met the u.s. ambassador japan john roos at the american embassy. nakaima expressed grave concern the matter would irreparably damage trust between okinawa and the u.s. military there. they say they take the matter seriously and are extremely concerned. >> translator: i wonder if u.s. servicemen are willing to abide by the law and it gives me chills just to think that such people actually fly military planes. people in okinawa are losing their trust.
>> this case is coming at a time military presence in okinawa has hit another high. earlier gene otani spoke with nhk world's yoichiro tateiwa. >> fill us a little bit about this background to this alleged sexual assault. >> you follow the deployment of controversial military aircraft osprey to the futenma air station. locals are opposed to the decision to deploy osprey in okinawa. they worry about the aircraft flying over residential areas because it has poor safety the japane and the u.s. government fear that the incident could further stir up okinawans anger over u.s. bases. the governor naikama says there's been a spate of accidents and incidents caused by servicemen and he's calling on the japanese government to improve the situation. he warned that otherwise japan/u.s. ties would
deteriorate. more than 70% of american military facilities in japan are based in okinawa. it's a foundation of the u.s./japan security alliance. without the support of the okinawan people, the alliance itself wouldn't exist as it does today. >> the u.s. military is in the process of re-aligning its forces in japan. what kind of impact could this case have on those plans? >> japan and the u.s. agree to relocate the futenma base in another part of okinawa, but the plan has been met with pierce local opposition and it's years behind schedule. the relocation agreement came about because of another case of sexual assault back in 1995. three u.s. servicemen raped a 12-year-old girl. the incident enraged okinawans. as many as 100,000 people gathered to protest against the u.s. military presence. this latest case of sexual assault, along with the deployment of the osprey
aircraft could further inflame anti-u.s. military centiment in okinawa. and surther delay the futenma move. people watching to see how authorities from both countries deal with this incident. breaking point.clo to if the japanese and the u.s. government fail to act appropriately, they could put the future of the alliance in question. >> nhk world's yoichiro tateiwa. scientists in the u.s. have developed a blood test that predicts whether a child will be born with downs syndrome. some have raised questions about the ethics. nhk world's david hirsh reports from new york. >> reporter: last year, scientists at this california-based biotechnology company introduced a revolutionary blood test. it's said to be 99% accurate in
determining whether a child would be born with downs syndrome. the test is for women over 10 weeks pregnant. it detects chromosomal anomalies in the fetal dna contained in their blood. researchers at the company have been busy. they are analyzing blood from the netherlands, the czech republic, israel and other countries. until now, this kind of screening mainly ruire amneoen amy i amniocentisis. such tests run a 0.3 risk of miscarriage. the new test carries no such risk. more than 20,000 women in the united states have already taken the test. andrea has miscarried in the past. when she was pregnant again, she chose the new test. her results were negative. and she had a healthy boy this may. >> i think by gting a yes or a
no, it will -- it will help the parents prepare. you know, for what their life is about to encompass. >> reporter: good or bad, the test raises questions. u.s. health institutes are now helping women handle the results. genetic counselors who specialize in prenatal testing work with obstetricians to educate patients on chromosome anomalies. they also information about support networks following the birth. >>o whaver that patient decides, we help them go forward with that and make sure that's the right decision for them. >> reporter: counseling staff are increasing in the u.s. they now number over 1800. >> the tests may soon be available in japan. here, too, people are debating the ethics. >> researchers at this tokyo hospital are preparing a clinical trial.
translator: we take a blood sample of 20 ccs and send it to the testing company in the u.s. >> reporter: the number of japanese women age 35 and over having babies has roughly doubled over the past decade to more than 250,000 per year. for this age group, the chances of a fetus acquiring downs syndrome rise significantly. only a few percent of japanese women currently undergo prenatal testing such as amniocentesis. the new safer test may increase this figure. but more testing means an increasing number of expectant parents will learn their fetus may have downs syndrome. what japan still lacks is a support system for decision making for women who test positive. this couple in their 40s learned their baby would have downs syndrome but no advice was available. they gathered as much
information as they could on their own. finally, they found a specialist to consult. after studying what downs syndrome meant, they decided to have the baby. >> translator: there was no information, and i didn't know anything about children with downs syndrome. the thought that i might have given up on my pregnancy scares me. >> reporter: this month, members of the japan society of obstett obstettic ricks and gynecolog set upguelines. >> docrs s the tt should limited to pregnant women at high risk, those over the age of 35. they say genetic counseling should be mandatory before and after the test. they say counselors should give women with -- and provide them with the information they need
to understand disabilities. the world's tallest broadcast tower is taking on a new role for lightning observati observation. local media were given a rare opportunity to see the new system at tokyo skytree. tokyo skytree is 634 meters tall. the lightning observation system isnstalled at 497 meters. this makes it the highest observation post in a manmade structure. the system measures electric currents and wave patterns. it's already recorded eight lightning strikes since it was installed in march. researchers hope the system will help unravel the mysteries of lightning. >> translator: there's not enough data on lightning. i'm looking forward to seeing what kind of information we can gather. >> researchers say it may also help toward developing electronic dices immunto lightning.
the weak global economy is forcing companies to look for new markets to grow. even so, pakistan doesn't seem like an obvious choice. headlines from there often focus on political chaos and terrorism. but that hasn't discouraged a group of japanese companies from taking a closer look. nhk world's hideki yui reports from islamabad. >> reporter: sialkot is a city in eastern pakistan. a factory, 150 men make uniforms for judo and karate. they work for japanese company that moved its production base here in july from china. >> translator: we are starting to receive orders from companies in europe as well as japan. because of rising costs in
china. >> pakistan's population is set to keep growing for the foreseeable future. more and more japanese companies see it as the promising market. they have formed a joint venture with a local firm. their new factory began operations this month. the plant will manufacture steel sheets used inutomobiles and elecic appliances. >> translator: this is a huge market of 180 million people. but per capita steel consumption is just 38 kilograms. we can expect the use of steel to grow sharply as people buy more cars, motorbikes and appliances. >> reporter: the biggest obstacle to doing business in pakistan is poor security. in the southern city of karachi, gun crime is ramp aant.
>> in karachi, they usually take armed security guard with them. >> this representative of a japanese company is one of them. he started traveling with an armed guard in june on the orders of his employer. he keeps cash in the car to offer in case he's robbed. >> this is a dummy purse with small amounts of cash. not having any cash could be dangerous so i always keep this in the car. >> japanese corporations are making a calculated bet that pakistan is worth the risk and they feel welcome in a country where anti-u.s. sentiments run deep. pakistani president asif al
zardari this month invited a delegation of more than 30 corporate officials from japan to his office. he promised to support japanese companies doing business in the country. pakistan is a member of the so-called next 11, countries that's investors believe have potential to follow the breaks in the next wave of emerging economies. japanese firms hope to make inroads into the pakistani market by pitching their advanced technology and know-how. hideki yui, nhk world, islamabad. time to check weather conditions around the world. we've been following a storm near okinawa. and that's been affecting people in southern japan. sayaka mori tells us more. >> yes, catherine, we've been focusing on a severe tropical storm for more than ten days. still bringing stormy conditions
across the okinawa islands. gail force winds are still occurring and waves could reach 6 meters today. the good news is that it's accelerating, moving of at 30 kilometers per hour towards the northeast. that means stormy conditions will finally come to an end to okinawa as we head into tonight. it looks like it's going to pass south of japan io frida and th continue to move towards the east. on and off showers are possible across the pacific edge of japan in addition to that high waves and strong winds as we head into your friday. meanwhile, yesterday a low pressure system dumped heavy rain across much of the country. miyazaki prefecture had about 150 millimeters of rain. conditions are starting to improve across the west. as you can see, northern japan will remain wet throughout the day. showers are likely in the mountainous areas. out we, nice clear skies for the korean peninsula. much of china and the indochina peninsula but the malay
peninsula will remain wet. chilly towards the north. 4 in ulaanbaatar. just on target in beijing, 20 degrees. and tokyo also 20 on thursday. all right. heading into the americas then, yesterday, tropical storm moved through baja, california, and has been downgraded into a remnant low and starting to leave the baja, california, peninsula but swells and some leftover showers will be an ongoing story as we head into tomorrow. hurricane raphael has been downgraded into a remnant low. swells will continue to impact the coastal areas of eastern canada into tomorrow. as for the continent, a strong low pressure system is bringing wet and windy conditions across central canada and the midwestern states. gusts over or about 100 kilometers per hour are likely here. more severe weather can be found along this cold front across
central and southern portions of the mid-mississippi river valley. you are going to continue to deal with severe weather as we head into tonight. the severe weather should be moving towards the northeast as we look ahead to friday. out towards the west, dry across the western half of the u.s. but a series of low pressure systems is moving through british columbia producing wet and windy conditions and snow showers are likely in the upper elevations after 30 centimeters of snow is likely. temperatures are quite hot in los angeles. 31 degrees expected. that's about four degrees cooler than it w on tuesday, but still much above average. meanwhile, cooling down into the lower 20s in oklahoma city and mild conditions across the eastern seaboard. 23 in washington and 20 degrees in new york city. finally, let's go over to europe. we're seeing a quite different picture across the northwest and the rest of europe. a couple of low pressure systems are bringing strong winds and rain across the british isles. the western edge of the continent and the southern
scandinavian peninsula because this high pressure system is quite stubborn. these low pressure systems cannot move towards the east. that means unstable weather will continue throughout the day. meanwhile, quite warm for this time of year. about 20 degrees in berlin and 17 degrees in vienna. warmer than average temperatures will likely continue as we head into the weekend. meanwhile, quite chilly in lisbon. only 15 degrees on thursday. here's the extended forecast.
a u.s. maker of amphibious vehicles is breaking new ground. it's launching a high-speed model on the market. the new technology means no more waiting around on the waterfront. the vehicle is a single passenger car/boat. the key selling point is its speed. 70 kilometers per hour both on land and in the water. but that's not all. when it takes to the water, the wheels fold up and tuck into the body in just five seconds. the maker says this is more than four times faster than amphibious vehicles already on
captioning sponsored by macneil/lehrer productions >> woodruff: president obama and mitt romney both appealed to women voters in swing states today, fresh off last night's combative and intensely personal town hall debate. good evening. i'm judy woodruff. >> ifill: and i'm gwen ifill. on the newshour tonight, how the two men performed, and where the race stands, 20 days out from election day. >> woodruff: plus, ray suarez looks at the charges and counter